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U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan will have a second chance to declare the Tax bill passed. Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg vi...

The GOP’s biggest spending challenges in 2018

On America’s list of New Year’s resolutions, “spend less and save more” is in the top 10, at least according to the latest Marist Poll. But Congress is going in the other direction.

If nothing changes, Republican leaders are poised to add a few trillion dollars to the national debt over the next decade. GOP lawmakers like to tout where that money would go — to pay for things like tax cuts and bolstering the military. But Republicans speak far less often about the trade-off: more debt.

Here’s a look at some of the potential red ink:

  • $1.5 – $2.2 trillion: Tax cuts. (Signed into law). Estimates vary, but once interest costs are included, the new tax cuts could cost around $2 trillion.
  • $200-plus billion: Infrastructure. (Proposed). This is President Donald Trump’s starting request for a sweeping decade-long infrastructure deal. It is unclear whether he would offset this cost.
  • $200 billion: Overall spending increase. (Proposed). Both parties say they want to roll back automatic budget cuts that are set to hit defense and non-defense agencies later this month. How they get there might be complicated.
  • $100-plus billion: Disaster aid. (Some of the spending has passed, some is proposed). Congress passed an initial $36.5 billion to assist communities hit by hurricanes and wildfire in 2017. The House approved an additional $81 billion that is still awaiting Senate action.
  • $20 to $100 billion: Extending past tax breaks. (Proposed). Most years, Congress passes a slew of “tax extenders” to keep a list of specific tax breaks alive for another year.
  • Billions more: Smaller program extensions. (Proposed). Example: A $500 million loan to miners to keep an historic pension fund solvent.

Republicans insist they will work toward a balanced budget, but they have not yet passed any measures to move the dollar needle toward that course. House Speaker Paul Ryan is pushing for entitlement reform, which would cut spending from some of the nation’s largest government programs, potentially including Medicare. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he does not see the idea making it through his chamber.